Former Slidell priest facing trial on molestation charge arrested after 2nd accuser emerges

NEW ORLEANS (LA) [New Orleans, LA]

October 25, 2022

By Sara Pagones

Patrick Wattigny’s trial on a molestation charge is scheduled for January

Patrick Wattigny, the former pastor of St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic Church in Slidell, faces new criminal accusations in a second molestation case involving a juvenile, two years after he was arrested on one count of molesting a 15-year-old boy.

The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office said a second alleged victim, now an adult, contacted investigators in August and said that Wattigny abused him while he was an elementary school student at a Covington-area Catholic school, according to Sheriff’s Office news release Tuesday evening.

A warrant was issued for Wattigny’s arrest following an investigation, the Sheriff’s Office said. He was being booked into the St. Tammany Parish Jail late Tuesday afternoon on one count of molestation of a juvenile, the Sheriff’s Office said.

“It is deeply disturbing when an individual in a position of authority uses that position to prey on the most defenseless of our population – our children,” St. Tammany Sheriff Randy Smith said in a prepared statement.

The Sheriff’s Office did not identify the school the alleged victim attended. Wattigny, ordained as a priest in 1994, has also worked at St. Peter in Covington; Visitation of Our Lady in Marrero;  St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Kenner; St. Benilde in Metairie; and is a former chaplain at Archbishop Rummel High School.

Earlier Tuesday, Wattigny’s attorney, Robert Stern, confirmed that Wattigny turned himself in to St. Tammany Parish authorities, but declined to comment on specifics of the case.

Wattigny has been out of custody on bond pending his scheduled trial for the October 2020 arrest.

In that case, the former priest pleaded not guilty in March 2021 to one count of molestation involving a 15-year-old boy. He is scheduled to go to trial in that case in January.

Wattigny was accused of molesting the 15-year-old beginning in 2013, shortly after Wattigny was assigned to St. Luke.

Wattigny was also the chaplain at Slidell’s s Pope John Paul II High School, where the mother of a student complained in February 2020 that Wattigny was sending inappropriate text messages to her son.

The Archdiocese of New Orleans ordered Wattigny to stop communicating with the student, which he did. But later, Wattigny allegedly resumed texting the student.

He resigned as chaplain of the high school in the summer of 2020 at the request of the archdiocese, which also ordered him to undergo a psychological evaluation and attend a 30-day retreat.

He allegedly disclosed to the archdiocese on Oct. 1, 2020, that he had abused a different boy, beginning in 2013.

The archdiocese notified law enforcement, and Wattigny was arrested later that month at a home he owns in Georgia.

Wattigny has been permanently removed from ministry, a spokesperson for the archdiocese, Sarah McDonald, said in an previous interview. She said then that the case for his laicization will move forward when the criminal investigation and trial are complete.

She said Tuesday that the archdiocese had no comment on Wattigny’s second arrest.